Sauteed Sea Scallops with Onion Confit

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish shows what you can do with those delicious bits of leftovers that may be sitting in your refrigerator. I first made it when I wanted to combine some ingredients I already had: onion confit left over from Caramelized Onion Tarts, and some beet and chive oils. Everything but the scallops had been done ahead. In combining several equally rich ingredients here, I disregard my usual preference for contrasts, and somehow it all works. But keep the portions small.

NotesOrder of preparation:

• Prepare the onion confit.

• Prepare the beet and chive oils.

• Sear the scallops.

Make-ahead notes:

• The onion confit can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

• The beet and chive oils can be refrigerated up to 2 days.

Makes6 appetizer servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes



Taste and Textureherby, rich, savory, sweet, tangy, umami


  • 6 large sea scallops, tendon removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 3 cups onion confit (recipe follows)
  • About ½ cup Beet Oil
  • About ½ cup Chive Oil
  • Chopped chives, for granish
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 pounds red onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ to ¾ cup veal stock, vegetable stock, or low-salt canned broth (optional)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until shimmering and sauté the scallops until golden brown.

  2. For the onion confit:

  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over high heat until shimmering. Add tbe onions, sprinkle with the sugar, and cook without stirring for 5 minutes. Stir, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook 5 minutes more. Raise the heat to high, add ½ cup of stock, and boil for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and continue cooking 10 to 12 minutes, reducing the heat to medium-high as the onions begin to brown.

  4. Taste and add stock if the onions are too tart, or vinegar if they are too sweet. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

  5. To serve, place 2 tablespoons of onion confit on a plate and top with 1 scallop. Surround with a drizzle of beet oil and a drizzle of chive oil. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

  6. Variation:

  7. Substitute Basil Oil for chive oil.


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